Achilles-Strengthening Exercises for Every Sport

Every good athlete has at least one soft spot. Want to be great? Strengthen your weakest link.

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Distance runners have no problem cranking out mile after mile, but when it comes to sprinting, they often fall flat because they've neglected to train the fast-twitch muscle fibers crucial for short-burst movement.

Skiers, in turn, are often terrible runners because they have tight, bulky legs. And cyclists tend to have undersize upper bodies.

In fact, any athlete who concentrates on a single sport is probably developing one aspect of their body at the expense of another. Those imbalances often lead to injury. “Balanced strength equals durability,” says Rob Shaul, owner of Mountain Athlete in Jackson, Wyoming. “Stronger athletes are harder to injure and, if they do get injured, recover faster.” The solution is easy: train your weakness.



Cyclists aren't accustomed to working in more than one plane and often have little core and upper-body strength. 

Incorporate impact exercises like jumping and free-weight lifts. 

Twice a week, four sets per leg:

  1. 10 lateral box jumps
  2. 10 push presses
  3. 10 bent-over rows

Skiers overdevelop their quads.

Balance the legs with targeted hamstring exercises.

Twice a week, four sets per leg:  

  1. 25 poor man's leg curls
  2. 25 donkey kicks

Runners have a good endurance base but little power or strength. 

Solution: Add explosive exercises like squat jumps and lunges.

Twice a week, four sets:

  1. 20 air squats
  2. 20 jumping lunges (ten per leg)
  3. 20 in-place lunges (ten per leg)
  4. 10 squat jumps


Lying prone on a board with a craned neck creates a tight mid- and upper back, and constant paddlingleads to overdeveloped, rounded shoulders.

Solution: Increase shoulder mobility with stretches, and strengthen the back and core with upper-body exercises. 

Workout: Three times a week, two sets:  

  1. 10 sun salutations
  2. Two minutes of chest stretches
  3. 10 burpees
  4. 10 standing cable rows

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